Domestic Abuse: From Custody to Support, Abuse Affects Divorce Proceedings

If you’re in a relationship in which domestic violence is an issue, your state laws may be able to help you protect your children in a divorce.

Violence is the reason stated for divorce in 22 percent of middle-class marriages alone. Up to three million women are victims of an act of domestic violence every year, says one study by the U.S. Department of Justice.

For Annie, The abuse began in little ways — nasty comments, sarcasm, insults and progressed finally to physical abuse after three or four years.  We had been in counseling and he promised never to hit me again. “He didn’t but I didn’t realize how emotionally and mentally abusive he could be.”

Domestic violence charges on a spouse, regardless if it is an allegation, arrest or conviction, have a major impact in divorce proceedings, particularly when it comes to child custody issues, experts say.

Domestic violence covers a wide range of abuses committed upon an intimate such as a spouse or family member. Many states have enacted laws governing child custody in divorces with charges of abuse. These laws make it difficult and near impossible for the accused to gain custody of their children, explained attorney Patricia Crawford.

If there is only one instance of abuse the consequences may not be as bad. Hillary, a Vermont mother and abuse victim, said, The judge in my case ruled that there had been no pattern of on-going abuse, only 1 instance of “bad judgment under the influence of alcohol” and that as long as my ex was complying with terms of probation including no alcohol use he did not feel that there was a current threat of physical harm to me.”

Parenting classes may be required.A parenting class, batterer’s treatment program or some type of substance abuse counseling program is usually obligatory.

Domestic abuse can cause problems for children whether they are the victim or witness, according to The Center Against Domestic Violence. Issues from physical illnesses to behavior problems have been attributed to domestic abuse in a family.

Michelle Byrom sits on Mississippi’s death row for the murder of her abusive husband. If you’re being abused get away now,” says Byrom. “I would eat poison just to spend days in the hospital away from the abuse. Don’t fool yourself thinking it can be a one-time thing. It just doesn’t happen that way.”